PNITA Update: Trade and the November Election



PNITA Update: Trade and the November Election

As November approaches, Americans are taking stock of the last 3.5 years of President Trump’s administration and considering their options for the election.

A survey from Fortune found that the top three issues on voters' minds ahead of the election are the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of the economy, and race relations - all issues this Administration has had challenges successfully maneuvering. 

As for the economy, many eyes will be on how each presidential candidate will approach trade. The use of 232 and 301 tariffs as a blunt instrument against international competitors and allies alike has resulted in an unpredictable trade environment that has done damage to America’s economy and standing around the world. Even before COVID-19 hit our shores, the U.S. economy had taken a hit due to the trade war with China. In this trade war, the Brookings Institution reports that “numerous studies have found that U.S. companies primarily paid for U.S. tariffs, with the cost estimated at nearly $46 billion. The tariffs forced American companies to accept lower profit margins, cut wages and jobs for U.S. workers, defer potential wage hikes or expansions, and raise prices for American consumers or companies... farmers have lost the vast majority of what was once a $24 billion market in China.”

The U.S. is the only advanced nation in the world that has not been able to control the COVID-19 pandemic within its borders and this has resulted in catastrophic impacts on our economy including soaring unemployment and entire industries in jeopardy. In the midst of this trade insecurity, the issue has become more important to the average voter. As of February, a whopping 79% of Americans saw trade as an economic opportunity rather than a threat. With so much public support for trade, this is an issue that will be front and center in the election. Whoever the next President (incumbent or new), they will have to rebuild the American economy and mend our strained trading relationships to help support job growth. Trade Partnership Worldwide urges presidential candidates to nurture and grow relations with Canada and Mexico, our top two national trading partners, and to create a more nuanced trade platform that accounts for each state’s top export and foreign trade partner. 

For a comparison of each candidate's platforms on trade and foreign relations check out this work from the Council on Foreign Relations.